Old Man River, the ghost of Elvis, BB King’s and the gay community all in one place? Yes, time rolls on just like the mighty Mississippi River. Not only has Mid-South Pride moved the traditional June celebration to October, both the parade and festival have been moved from midtown Memphis to downtown Memphis. The festivities are Saturday, Oct. 15, with a variety of offerings for residents and tourists alike.

Out & About Newspaper serves as Platinum sponsor of this year’s celebration, and all of its readers from across the state are invited to Memphis for a weekend of Southern gay hospitality, fun and gaiety.

Whether you just want to watch or want to join in the annual march of gay pride, this historic event has something for everyone. With the lineup beginning at 1 p.m. and step off at 2 p.m., the 2011 Mid-South Pride Parade begins and ends in front of the home of the Grizzlies and the University of Memphis Tigers, the FedEx Forum (on Third Street, just south of Beale Street). The parade will proceed in front of The Westin (hotel), turn north on Second Street, and then turn east onto historic Beale Street at BB King’s and proceed down Beale street back to FedEx Forum. 

The trek down Beale Street will pass such Memphis establishments as Silky Sullivan’s, Hard Rock Café, Coyote Ugly and the New Daisy theatre, as well as W.C. Handy Park, where the ghost, or at least the statue of Elvis Presley, reminds us that even the King of Rock & Roll was influenced by the blues.

Whether before or after the parade, join everyone at the Festival, held across the street from the FedEx Forum at Robert R. Church Park, a 10-acre park located at Fourth and Beale Streets. The festival is open from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Musical entertainment will be provided on two stages at the festival this year. Entertainers at press time included Nashville’s Carol Plunk, Summer Osborne, the Gloryholes, Immigrant Punk, Sibella, Porcelan Chalet and  Kenneth Jackson. Absent Friends will present songs from Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the cast of Playhouse on the Square’s production of Avenue Q will present selections from this Broadway hit. The Mystic Krewe of Pegasus Memphis will bring the Mardi Gras party to the stage with music, grand costumes and, of course, beads. Flaunt will also bring the show girls to the stage.

For those wanting to participate in the parade, cost is only $40 before Sept. 30 and $50 after. Mid-South Pride invites participants, whether walking groups, vehicles, or even floats, to remember this year’s theme, “Pride by the Riverside.” Parade judges will award first, second and third place awards for marchers/walking groups, for rolling groups (either motorized or horse-drawn) and best use of theme. Best of Show also will be awarded.

Mid-South Pride offers an extremely inexpensive way to get your organization or business in front of thousands of people. In 2010, more than 5,000 people attended the event with more than 50 vendors taking part.  Participation at the festival costs $50 for nonprofits, $75 for organizations and $100 for vendors. Electrical connections are available for an additional $75 ($55 for nonprofits). A table and two chairs can be rented for $10. After Oct. 1, any booth/vendor application will need to include an additional $10 fee.

In addition, sponsorship packages are still available, ranging from as little as $20 to $5,000.

For more information and applications, go online to www.Midsouthpride.org, email info@midsouthpride.org, or call (901) 283-1116.


This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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